By Land and Sea

Victoria Docks Collection

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The Victoria Docks are located in Melbourne; this scene shows a winter skyline where the depth of blue draws in the viewer. Each of his works starts as a life painting, then Michael colours and adds to the scene, changing what he sees into what he wants to see. In the Victoria Docks he focused on a deep skyline and a third boat to ensure the landscape remained balanced. When printed on leather, it is a delight to see the texture and movement of the bag emphasise the movement of the water. It is truly a vibrant and tranquil scene.

Artwork by Michael Polke

Michael was born in Breslau, Germany in the 1930’s. When he was five, his father was detained in a concentration camp. His mother, who ran her own business, was able to pool together a large sum of money and bribe an official to have him released. With deep regret the family moved to Palestine. His father could not forget how the German Gestapo could treat another German, and joined the allies. He enlisted in the British army for what would become World War II, a stark change as he had fought with Germany in the first. Sadly, a bomb in Libya killed him a few months later. With only a small pension his mother struggled with the household and Michael was sent to a children’s home at the age of eight. During this time, Michael was recognised as having some talent with drawing and painting.

He was sent on the weekends to learn to paint with masters. In 1946 his mother moved to Australia to build a new life and had Michael join her when he was sixteen. He studied art at RMIT. Back then art was not considered a career and so with reluctance he changed direction to study for a medical degree. With a distinguished career as an orthopaedic surgeon, we can be thankful that he finds time to paint on the weekends.

Michael paints in watercolour a method that allows him to blend and layer colour. He pulls the audience into the depth and delicate nature of his scenes. Michaels work comes from outdoor life painting, where he works alongside friends and painting groups. He mostly exhibits at The Victorian Artist Society in Melbourne.